In response to yesterday's post, a reader asks:
Any hints for how to seek out and interview for aforementioned jobs?
I've got a few. First, mention to everyone that you talk to what you're looking for. (Whether that be something specific like "A job at the PD's office" or "Any internship I can get.") You'll be surprised who knows someone - in the end, it might be your mechanic that's married to the PD's hiring attorney.
Second, I found that (at my law school at least), the clinic staff was more helpful than the career services staff. A lot of the clinic professors had been in the field more recently and still had great connections. I sought out a clinic or two that fit my interests and tried to make good connections with the professors. They were great resources. Right now I actually work in the same office that my clinic professor used to work in. The same is also true for adjuncts who are in a practice field that interests you or new professors who were recently in practice.
Oh, wait, just as an aside - Take classes that interest you or that are relevant to your field. Do not take classes because they're on the bar. You're going to do better in classes that interest you, you'll be more likely to make potential job connections, and most importantly, it probably won't help you on the bar anyway. I took every class that could be relevant to criminal law, and I didn't touch any classes that weren't. (Tax? Trusts and Estates? No thanks.) I passed the bar just fine, and you can too.
Back to clinics - I think a clinic is a great thing if you can find one that fits your interest. My advice to pre-law readers out there (especially those that want to do something other than the big firm gig) is to check out a law schools' clinics - make sure they have a good clinic that interests you. How could you impress a potential job more than to say - yes, I've already done this work, I already know that I enjoy it, I've already worked with real clients just like yours, and I've already been meticulously trained and supervised in this field?
Finally, I know it can be a little intimidating, but don't be afraid to just introduce yourself to someone and volunteer yourself. For example, get your local law newspaper (or local to where you want to practice), local continuing legal education brochures, and local bar association schedules of seminars. If you look, you're sure to find LOTS of classes and seminars, many of which will be free or cheap for law students. Find one (or a few) that interest you, and afterwards, introduce yourself to the professor, tell him or her that you're interested in getting into the field and ask if they would (1) give you any advice; or (2) let you come to their office to talk to them; or (3) let you follow them around for a day; or (4) have you as an intern. Most practitions would love some free or cheap labor (I know I would), and most are pretty flattered that a law student is interested in their work. I knew a few people in law school who found their dream jobs by going to continuing legal education classes or symposiums.
If you have the time, you could also consider setting up a speaker to come to your school. You could go to career services and say "Hey, I'm interested in the work this attorney does, if I get her to agree to come to the law school to talk about what they do and how they got there, could you set up the rest?" I think (or at least I hope) that part of the reason that most career services offices are so clueless about the non-firm jobs is because they just don't get what students are interested in. That would be one way to show them.
That's just a few ideas off the top of my head - I hope that helps!